The Ivy Coach Daily

May 3, 2024

Which Ivy League Schools Are Considering Eliminating Legacy Admission?

A columned building with a Latin inscription on top is featured at Harvard University.
The elimination of legacy admission is “under consideration” at Harvard.

Previously Published on September 10, 2011:

When the United States Supreme Court struck down Affirmative Action, the practice of offering preferential treatment to underrepresented minority applicants in the college admissions process, it would seem logical that the next domino to fall would be legacy admission.

After all, if America’s colleges, including the Ivy League schools, were prohibited from offering preferential treatment to Black, Latino, and Native American students, how could they continue to justify offering preferential treatment to the often white and privileged children of a school’s alumni base?

But, since the fall of Affirmative Action in June 2023, has the next domino fallen, or does legacy admission still stand across the Ivies?

Legacy Admission Policy Across the Ivies in 2024

Below is a breakdown of the legacy admission policy at each of the eight Ivy League schools in 2024:

Ivy League School2024 Legacy PolicyLegacy Policy Under Review
Brown UniversityLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate Degree at Brown)No
Columbia UniversityLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate Degree at Columbia)No
Cornell UniversityLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate Degree at Cornell)No
Dartmouth CollegeLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate Degree at Dartmouth)No
Harvard UniversityLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate Degree at Dartmouth)The Elimination of Legacy Admission is “Under Consideration” at Harvard
Princeton UniversityLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate or Graduate Degree at Princeton)No
University of PennsylvaniaLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate or Graduate Degree at Penn)No
Yale UniversityLegacy Status Considered (Qualification: Parents Completed Undergraduate Degree at Yale)No

Only Harvard Has Announced Eliminating Legacy Admission Is “Under Consideration”

So, while it’s been nearly a year since the fall of Affirmative Action, not a single Ivy League school has thus far eliminated its legacy admission policy. In a twist of irony, as Ivy League campuses roil this week with despicable, blatant antisemitic rage, it’s worth noting that Harvard created legacy admission to cap the then-rising number of Jewish students on its campus.

Nearly a year after the June 2023 decision striking down Affirmative Action, only Harvard has announced it would consider abolishing the practice. In an October 2023 article for The Harvard Crimson, Rahem D. Hamid and Elias J. Schisgall reported, “Removing legacy admissions preferences in Harvard’s admissions process ‘is one of the things that’s under consideration,’ Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Hopi E. Hoekstra said in an interview with The Crimson last week.”

However, “under consideration” doesn’t mean much as long as legacy candidates are offered preferential treatment in Harvard’s admissions process. Because, as we’ve long expressed to Ivy Coach’s readers, where Harvard goes, the rest tend to follow (with exceptions like when Dartmouth College reinstated the SAT/ACT testing requirement and Harvard, along with other Ivies, soon followed Dartmouth’s lead).

Legacy Candidates Enjoy a Significant Edge

To those who assert that legacy candidates don’t really enjoy a big advantage over other applicants, we say nonsense! For years, admissions officers at Ivy League schools touted the tie-breaker argument — that only if all else were equal between two candidates would the legacy candidate get the added boost. If that were true, about a fifth of Early Action/Decision admits at many schools would not be legacies. Indeed, studies have shown that legacy candidates are over four times as likely to be admitted as non-legacy candidates. Tie-breaker? Baloney.

The Time is Now to End Legacy Admission

From atop our soapbox in elite college admissions, we at Ivy Coach have been calling for an end to legacy admission for nearly two decades. Yet, legacy admission stands today at the eight Ivy League schools.

As such, might we suggest the despicable antisemitic student-protesters who have taken over so many of the Ivy League campuses with encampments this week redirect their anger from divestiture from Israel (it’s never going to happen, nor should it!) to eliminating legacy admission. If these shameful student-protesters genuinely cared about equity and creating change for the better, they’d heed our call. But they’re probably too busy ordering gluten-free avocado toast as they glamp.

Some sources have claimed that Harvard admits 40% of applicants, Princeton 35%, and Penn 41%. Dartmouth reports that it admits legacies at a rate twice to two and a half times as high as non-legacy applicants. While the data changes every year, you get the idea.

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